Apple harvest begins for Big Fish Cider

Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 5:42 PM EDT
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HIGHLAND COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - “The apples are ripening,” said Big Fish Cider’s Kirk Billingsley. “It’s a huge apple crop in Highland County, so we’re very excited about the possibilities of making some ciders, some really good ciders.”

And the first step to making cider is getting the apples. Billingsley and his two-man crew were out early picking the apples they thought were ready.

“So there’s a lot of different varieties,” he said, “and this particular orchard, as well as another one of my orchards, is planted specifically for cider.”

Which means they are always thinking about which will be the best apples for this year’s pressing.

“It just takes a good blend of different apples to make what I would consider a really good cider,” Billingsley said. “What you’re looking for is that good balance. You don’t want something too tart, you don’t want something too sweet. You don’t want something that’s, I guess, too much flavors in one profile. You’re sort of looking for a balanced profile.”

The job has just begun. They’ll be picking as late as November, with so many types that even Billingsley has trouble remembering them all.

“I’ve got to stop and think what all the apples are down there,” he laughed when asked.

And then they’ll be making them into this year’s perfect product, because the apples are what cider is all about.

“I like to let the apples be the apples,” Billingsley said, “and the vintages be the vintages.”

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